NASA Podcasts

This Week @ NASA, April 21, 2013
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This Week at NASA…



“4-3-2-1, Go Antares … engine start. Liftoff of the Antares A-One test mission …”

Now that the Antares rocket and its simulated Cygnus spacecraft have successfully test-launched from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport at Wallops Flight Facility, program managers at NASA and Orbital Sciences Corporation are looking ahead to the cargo delivery system’s next milestone.

Charlie Bolden, NASA Administrator:
“This is what we’ve said we wanted. You know, we wanted to have what we consider to be a viable commercial option to get cargo to the International Space Station.”

Frank Culbertson, Executive Vice President & Gen. Mgr., Orbital Sciences Corporation:
“The Cygnus spacecraft that will fly to the space station has actually been fueled, it’s ready to be transferred into the Horizontal Integration Facility and as soon as that rocket is ready to receive it, we’ll integrate the two together and it will be ready to roll out to the pad something this summer.”

Cygnus is designed to deliver supplies and science experiments to the International Space Station under NASA’s Commercial Orbital Transportation Services, or COTS program. On this test flight, Antares also delivered to orbit a trio of PhoneSat nanosatellites designed and built at Ames Research Center to showcase the ability to launch and deliver to space low-cost, easy-to-build satellites.



Progress on final assembly and integration of the Orion spacecraft was showcased for news media at the Kennedy Space Center’s Operations and Checkout Building. KSC Director Bob Cabana and others detailed the status of NASA’s next space capsule and its un-crewed Exploration Flight Test-1 scheduled for next year. EFT-1, which will send Orion some 36-hundred miles into space and will test the capsule’s heat shield as it re-enters Earth’s atmosphere at high speeds similar to those experienced by spacecraft returning from deep space. The occasion also marked the announcement three years ago by President Obama of his goals for NASA and space exploration, including sending humans to an asteroid, something Orion could do as early as 2021.



Deputy Administrator Lori Garver addressed attendees of “Gathering for Impact!”, the 3rd International Academy of Astronautics Planetary Defense Conference, in Flagstaff, Arizona. The 5-day event addressed strategies for deflecting an asteroid and civil defense response should impact threaten.

Lori Garver, NASA Deputy Administrator:
“Well, NASA’s all about leaving the world a better place. So leaving it intact is a benefit that we can help with.” Also included was an outing to nearby Meteor Crater – one of the best preserved meteorite impact sites in the world.



NASA’s Kelper space telescope has discovered three super Earth-size planets in their stars’ habitable zones, a region where liquid water might exist on the planets’ surface. The smallest of the three is only forty percent larger than Earth and most likely rocky in composition. Two of the planets orbit a star known as Kepler-62, located 360 light years from Earth. The other revolves around Kepler-69, which is approximately 27-hundred light years away.



Aboard the International Space Station: a spacewalk by Russian Flight Engineers Pavel Vinogradov and Roman Romanenko to deploy and retrieve several science experiments and install a new navigational aid on the Zvezda service module. The retro-reflector device will provide docking assistance for the arrival of the European Space Agency’s Albert Einstein Automated Transfer Vehicle 4 cargo ship in June.

The spacewalk -- the 167th in support of space station assembly and maintenance, is the seventh for Vinogradov and the first for Romanenko.



Teams of high school and college students are geared up for the 20th annual Great Moonbuggy Race April 25-27 at the US Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville. Hosted by the Marshall Space Flight Center, the event encourages young people to develop and use skills in science, technology, engineering and math to build and race lightweight, human-powered buggies. NASA hopes these students will pursue careers in STEM fields to benefit the agency, the nation and humankind.



NASA's Hubble Space Telescope celebrated its 23rd anniversary by, once again, focusing on the iconic Horsehead Nebula – but this time with the infrared eyes of its Wide Field Camera 3. Imaging the nebula in infrared revealed features previously hidden by gas and dust. About 15-hundred light-years away, the Horsehead lies in one of the closest and most commonly photographed regions of space, where stars are actively forming. The image is a preview of the infrared output expected from Hubble’s successor, the James Webb Space Telescope, set to launch in 2018.



Twelve years ago, on April 19, 2001, space shuttle Endeavour launched from Kennedy Space Center on STS-100 to deliver Canadarm2 to the International Space Station. Used to lift and move hardware and spacewalking astronauts, the Canadian-built robotic arm, a longer, more capable version of the shuttle’s robot arm, played a critical role in completing assembly of the space station. The mission also delivered supplies to the station with the Italian-built Raffaello Multi-Purpose Logistics module.

And that’s This Week @NASA.

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